Links: NBA Monday

by April 07, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

Alright, we’ve got a lot to get through today, because I want to devote the rest of this week to NBA postseason awards and make The Links a place where we can all figure out who deserves what awards.

No NBA games tonight, because the rest of the sports world always takes off the night of the NCAA Championship game. I think Memphis is going to win — no real analysis or study behind that, I just think Bill Self isn’t a very good coach. That’s largely based on the time a few years ago at The Garden when Kansas was in a preseason tournament, and Ben was sitting courtside and with the game on the line, he heard Self tell one of his players, “Hey, get open right here!” and point to a spot on the court. Now that’s coaching. Although I’m sure Fred Kerber has some equally strong opinions about Coach Cal.

The NBA gets cracking again tomorrow night, and the most relevant game to the Playoff hunt is actually Hawks at Pacers, where the Pacers have to win to stay alive in the chase for the 8 spot in the East. The Warriors and the Nuggets each play tomorrow night as well. I think the Warriors are going to take it, just because they have such a favorable schedule (four of their last five are at home). Although I did see the WNBA’s Swin Cash last night on ESPN sitting in as an NBA analyst, and she said Denver has the best chance to make the Playoffs because defensively they’re held down by K-Mart and Camby.

Really? Because even though the Warriors allow more points per game than any other team in the NBA, the Nuggets are just 1 ppg behind them in points allowed. Whichever one of these teams makes the Playoffs, it ain’t gonna be because of their defense.

• How awesome are the new NBA commercials? I saw it Sunday during the Mavs/Suns game, and Linkstigator Allen sent the link along…

Pretty cool. Do you think they knew they were going to be sharing time with each other? I don’t.

• I don’t watch much (any) women’s basketball, but not because I have a problem with it from a gender perspective; I just don’t have time to watch much of anything other than the NBA. That includes women’s college hoops, the WNBA, even men’s college hoops.

Then last night I was in bed flipping channels and I came across the Tennessee/LSU semifinal game from the Women’s Final Four. Each team had about 40 points and there were a few minutes left, so I figured it must be nearly halftime. But it wasn’t…it was the end of the game. And these are two of the best teams?

LSU was down 1 with the clock winding down and they grabbed a defensive rebound. A guard from LSU got the ball and started running up the sideline. A Tennessee player hustled up to her at halfcourt and bumped her hard, and the ref called a foul with 7 seconds left. Oh, I thought, Tennessee must have a foul to give. Smart play.

But they didn’t have a foul to give, and the girl from LSU got two free throws. Great strategy.

LSU made both free throws to take the lead. Tennessee called a timeout to organize a final shot, and the camera showed LSU coach Van Chancellor gather his team around and start to draw up a defense but then just erase it and instead talk to his players.

So there was seven seconds left and Tennessee had to go the length of the court. If you’re LSU, don’t you put everyone back under the basket and maybe send one person to guard the inbounds pass and make Tennessee waste a second or two dribbling? If you lose, it should be on a long, contested jumper, right?

Instead LSU was in what looked like a full court man to man. Tennessee threw it in and Candace Parker easily beat her defender and dribbled the length of the court and passed to an open player for a layup. She missed, of course, but Tennessee got a tip-in to take the lead.

Then, with less than a second left, LSU inbounded under their own basket. Did they throw it the length of the floor? No, the inbounds passer barely got it across halfcourt, into a pack of Tennessee players. Game over, Tennessee wins. And I’m left shaking my head. And people say women’s basketball is heavier on fundamentals than men’s basketball? The two teams shot a combined 9-for-26 on free throws!

Again, I have nothing against women’s hoops, but I do have something against poorly coached and poorly played basketball. And what I saw last night in what was allegedly one of the biggest games of the year with two of the best teams (a one seed and a two seed) did absolutely nothing to interest me in women’s basketball.

• Hey, congrats to Billy Packer on being elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. I’ve always said he’s a tough little monkey.

• I heard a Hawks player was called out for having a large melon during a recent game. Specifically, an opposing player was shooting free throws when he called this Hawk “Headric Ceballos.”

• I did go see the movie “21” this weekend, though I left about 45 minutes into it once I realized it wasn’t a movie about Dominique Wilkins.

No, seriously, I did go see “21,” and I did leave early, but that was because I didn’t think the movie was very good. A few years back I read the book the movie is based on, “Bringing Down The House,” which is an entertaining (if sloppy) read. But it has a good plot and it moves along quickly. The thing is, the book is a true story, and in the book (and in real life), if memory serves me right, most of the members of the team are Asian. But in the movie, they’ve all magically turned white. So that was weird enough. Worse than that, the movie was just too slow for me. One hour in and they just showed up in Vegas. So I cashed out my chips and went home.

• Linkstigator Johnathan has uncovered a possible bride for Li’l Li’l Romeo. Word.

• And finally, it’s time for NBA Friday. (Well, Friday was the time but I was on the road, so you’ll get two this week.)

This week, the official illustrator of The Links, Joel Kimmel, got around to the Toronto Raptors, and this week’s player is Chris Bosh.

“The Raptors have some great young players,” says Joel, “but I had circled Chris Bosh on my calendar when I started this project back in November. I knew I wanted to do something involving dinosaurs and Chris Bosh so I went from there. I decided on painting Bosh in a prehistoric environment with erupting volcanoes and some sort of pterosaurs flying above with Bosh, as a Toronto Raptor, lurking in the trees. Then I designed the illustration as though it was a page in an educational dinosaur picture book, complete with a diagram of how Bosh might measure up with a Tyrannosaurus and a snippet of information that reads: A long, flexible neck allows Bosh to see over opponents and helps him to appear more intimidating.”

“In my research for this piece I learned that the Toronto Raptors logo is scientifically incorrect. Supposedly Velociraptors were more bird-like and had feathers and small wings!”

The picture follows, and it’s awesome as always. Next week’s team is the Dallas Mavericks.